Dear Chamber Supporter:

It’s been a quiet week in town…many using this week for time off and for catching up. We were able to man the Chamber office with only one staff this week to allow each of us some time with families and relaxation. Since not much to mention by way of events and news, I thought I’d offer a few last holiday musings for your consideration.

I think most tend to get a little nostalgic this time of year…for nearly all the Holidays conjure fond memories. We are warned to be cognizant that for many the Holidays can be a painful time…I suspect some of the hurt is caused from pleasant reminiscences of bygone days and a longing for a time that will never return.

Our recollections are triggered by our many customs and traditions that transcend the years of our lives. I tend to grouse when Cherry insists we bring down the decorations from the attic to adorn the house and trim the tree. I repeat my annual tirade saying, “it’s much easier to put up a wreath and buy a poinsettia.” I don’t tell her, but most of my grumbles are for show. Probably some of my pretend crabbiness is because my dad complained when he had to dig out the ribbon, garland and lights for the house…on some level it gives me a connection with him.

Each year as we prepare the house for the holidays…I’m always reminded of growing up with my brother and sisters. Annually we would trek to the timber to select our tree, harvest it and bring it home to decorate. Our Christmas stockings were stored in mom’s cedar chest. She had crafted each one…I remember as a small boy helping select the sequins and buttons that adorned my stocking.

We still hang our kids stockings…too many grandkids to hang a stocking for each of them! Our tree decorations today still entail ornaments made by them…and of course now our grandkids. On Christmas Eve, our then young family, would venture into the cold dark outside and watch the sky for signs of Santa Clause. If I could spot the red light of a plane I could convince them it was Rudolph guiding the sleigh.

My own dad would take a scrap of red felt and hook it to the flu or the hearth persuading me and my siblings to believe Santa had torn his pants by a quick departure. We believed it each year just as my own children could actually visualize the sleigh speeding across the night sky.

Cherry and I feel so blessed to once again be able to experience Christmas through the eyes of our 10 grandchildren…just as we did our own children for so many years. Their cherub faces cause the memories of our own family Christmases to flood back as we watch the excitement in their eyes and their anticipation.

I take much consolation in knowing that while my own children and grandchildren can never personally know my grandparents, the Christmases I shared with them when I was a child are alive each year in my memory. Our family un-wraps gifts in the same traditional fashion we enjoyed when they were the living patriarchs and active participants in the family circle. The faces in the circle have changed but the presence of those before still remains…and their presence is felt.

Therein lays the true joy in Christmas. Our families, with all their scars and warts, link us to yesteryear and tomorrow. It makes no difference whether your family consists of blood-relatives or in-laws; whether your closest relations are church members or friends and neighbors – whatever your modern family looks like, you bring a personal connection from your past that comingles with their recollections and new synergies and traditions are created.

I hope the Holiday season is a happy time for you; or in the very least it summonses memories that are pleasant. Many begin looking forward to next year the moment we carefully begin to store our precious memories into boxes to bring into full display in future Christmases. The memories we create we carry forward. It is how we keep those that are dearest to us – nearest to us as we get older; it is how we build a connection to our past, a path to the future and a sense we have created something larger than ourselves.

One last Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all of you…I am also so blessed for each one of you!! May each of you be blessed in 2022…

Onward ~ John

John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
[email protected]
785-242-1000